What Social Life?

Monday, 30 January 2012
When I worked for WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, back in the day when I was in my early 20s, I had to grasp the reality of getting up at 3am in order to be at work at 4am, five days a week. I was late often but got the job done thanks to my talented and experienced photographer and live truck engineer, Rambo. Life was actually pretty difficult at that point because I was ALWAYS tired. However, I didn't let that stop me from doing the things I loved to do.

I attended Reds baseball games, went to Bengals games on Sundays, was part of the Bacchanalian Society of Cincinnati and relatively engaged in an active social life (read: I received several nice invitations to dinner from young men and explored the lovely nooks and crannies of Cincy with girlfriends.) I also emceed charity events which would keep me out past my bedtime and attended opening night at Broadway plays that made their way through the Queen City. While I probably should have abandoned the need to be a sociocultural butterfly, I didn't want to. I was young, I was resilient. My, how things have changed.

While my life is still incredibly exciting, the stakes, I've found, are much higher. As a reporter, I could turn the "switch" on and off. With the right makeup and electricity under my chair in the live truck to plug in my straightener, I could quickly and easily prepare to be live-shot ready. Typically, Rambo and I would shoot our story for the morning ahead of time and I would write and prepare for the report before even going home that day. Essentially, we'd meet in the morning (before even God was awake), print scripts, drive to our live location and proceed with the involved set-up. We did the same thing everyday and the routine became comfortable. I trusted our team. The producers knew they could count on the crew in the field and we knew all would go well on our end. I became confident, I could afford to enjoy myself outside of work and be committed to my job as a morning reporter.

I now operate in a realm where nothing is constant except the meeting time of my classes and there is no respite afterwards because the work day is never done. In the academic world, when I meet a deadline, four others are looming. Beyond that? More deadlines hang out just begging for attention. Rather than relaxing when the lights switch off and the crew gets the "all clear" from the booth, this is an existence that requires constant sacrifice and discipline.

Just this week I had to wave the white flag on my social life and tell a couple of nice gentlemen that I just did not have time to get together. Who does that!? It doesn't seem okay or natural but not many potential partners are willing to sit at home and read for hours and hours. Who can blame them?

For the first time in gosh knows how long, I stayed home for the entire weekend, working on a paper for the conference I'm presenting at, reading a book that I have to lead a discussion on (Erving Goffman's Presentation of Self in Everyday Life) and reading journal articles for another class. This doesn't even include the massive research project I'm working on with a UTK professor regarding First Amendment Rights.

Do other PhDs struggle with not having enough time in the week? I had to find out so I asked around and the consensus is: yes. It is perfectly normal to put your personal life on the back burner because it is not an option to not publish, not present at conferences, not be prepared for 600 level classes. Okay. Fine. But here's one thing to consider: Spring Break is on the horizon and even if I have to read six books and write two papers, I will be doing it from a white beach in another country, possibly with a drink accented by a tiny, purple umbrella.


claywave said...

No social life in Knoxville? Market Square & other spots near campus can cure that. Just tonight a young blue-grass/rockabilly band played at Pres Pub envoking several people to get up & dance. Come out & enjoy a spot where good beer can be had and chivalry still resides.

Denae said...

Pres Pub is a favorite of mine. You can meet the most interesting people there. ;)

Cincychili said...

Do you miss the Queen City?

Teri's Blog said...

When I was doing my Master's I went to the library one night to work on my thesis. When I was about half way done I looked up and the library was pretty empty, which was weird because the library at BYU is usually busy. Then it occurred to me that it was Saturday night! So yes, cancelling dates is TOTALLY normal when doing research.